Takeaways from “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers”: Part I

Update on 1/19/19:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.

billy  Annie Kagan’s wonderful book which channels messages from her deceased brother is a lovely description of the afterlife through an interesting, colorful, musical character named Billy Fingers.  The quote on the back cover is one of my favorite pieces of advice from Billy Fingers.  He tells his sister, “If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the dance of the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.”  I am often shocked by how seriously people take themselves.  Nothing is funnier than arrogance (even our own) when you have a universal perspective.  When you have journeyed far beyond the confines of this body and your personal drama, it is hard to get back in the body and play the game of life without remembering the oneness beyond the self and how beautiful divine love really is.

After Death Communications:  Beyond the beautiful descriptions from Billy Fingers, I appreciated the author’s candor and openness about wondering if her communications were only wishful thinking or unreliable.  For years, many of us have heard ridicule and disbelief around the topic of after-death communications.  I am glad that Annie Kagan addressed the disbelief that she feared others might have concerning her communications with Billy.  In the beginning of the story, she admits to fearing being viewed as a fraud and asks for verification from her brother.   Billy’s gifts of information to others are lovely and humorous at times.  These gifts of information seem to bring the author closer to those around her and that seems to be part of the gift.

Though ridicule is possible when talking about spiritual topics, our times are changing and the more of us who come forward and discuss our spiritual experiences, the more others feel free to discuss their experiences.  In a short amount of time, I have had lots of people open up to me about their NDEs, their communications with loved ones who have passed over, and other related topics.  I have only had two people ridicule me, but I take the occasional flares of jealousy as a sign that I’m on to something good.

you choose  I battled with discussing my communications with my deceased father, but I am glad that I did.  Reading The Afterlife of Billy Fingers reminded me to open up and ask if he had a message for me.   I thought about where he might be on his journey, several years after his death.  His perspective now seems to be even larger and farther away, and Kagan explains that process of becoming one with larger realities beautifully.

When I asked for a message from dad, he very quickly replied, “At least you are trying to access the invisible and bring what really matters to the people.  So many are not even trying.”

eternalHis words felt more profound than just those words, as if my dad exists so far away in that Universe now and is able to see the workings of this place and others in the cosmos.  He saw the world as if it were a world of busy bodied ants, driving from place to place, building things, doing things, but not thinking about the true meaning of what they are doing.  The spiritual ones are the ones looking up and wondering how everything works beyond the veil, wondering how they might access Divine Love and bring it into the world for others so that they might understand.

In my dancing and stumbling ways, I am one of the ones who looks up at the sky, goes to nature for more light, and brings what light I can into the world.  I am trying.  My efforts might be small at times, but I am one of the ants looking outward, hoping to bless others with the love I sense from the other side.  Sometimes, I am toppled by fear, by grief, and by cruelty, but I continue on because to live is to continue.  As long as we have breath, we can be of use to others to help them remember the beauty of this journey.

Dad seemed to be disappointed that a large part of the world is largely unconcerned with spiritual realities.  He likes his place in a universe of connectedness and understanding, far beyond this one.  He wishes more people took an interest in all that is possible beyond what is right in front of their hands.

Divine Love:  I’m a fan of how Billy describes Divine Love.   Divine Love was one of the most exciting parts to cover in writing my story of my NDE.

Billy explains the experience of being surrounded by Divine Love as Bliss.  He goes on to say, “Bliss is like being in love multiplied by a thousand, but it has nothing to do with anyone else.  It’s fulfilling in and of itself.  On earth you usually need someone to give you a reason to feel love, and that feeling usually has its ups and downs.  With bliss, there’s no downside—and you don’t need a reason for it.  As your soul floats through this dimension, it’s just natural to feel bliss.”

beauty

Many NDErs miss that feeling of bliss if they get a taste of it.  I miss it, and yet nothing has changed my life more than to realize that this Bliss/Divine Love exists.  Love like that puts everything on earth in perspective.  People often live their lives as fractured parts of a whole, and many do not even know that they are part of a whole.  They believe only in the splintered part that they observe daily, obsessively comparing themselves with others.  Comparison is not what the Divine Light gives us.  It gives us complete acceptance, complete love, and complete safety.

Billy’s character goes on to address disappointment in a broader sense. “Disappointment is part of the pattern on earth.  But things change.  I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it is a secret.  Things change. When you die, you realize how much and you realize there are immortal things, things you take with you, and they change too.  The Eastern concept of Maya, or illusion, what does this mean?  It means temporary.  It means our lives are temporary.”

Divine Love vs. Romantic Love:  Life is indeed a quick journey and not nearly as long as we think it is when viewed from the other side.  Divine Love is an amazing experience, and hard to translate and experience while in human form.  You almost need the freedom of not having a body to fully understand it.  As Billy Finger’s character says, “After you die, you spend a lot of time, solo time, exploring yourself as a Universe….You are the Universe.  But society teaches you different.  Society teaches limitation, (but)…everything you ever need is already inside you.  And who you really are is far beyond your comprehension.  That’s why living squeezed into the human experience can be painful at times.”

While in form, we long for that picture perfect life to show to the world to bolster our ego and say, “Here is my soulmate/twin flame, my family, my great job, my perfect kids, and my white picket fence/condo/home in the country.”  That life rarely exists, and if it does for a while, it changes anyway.  On the other side, I wanted to see that I returned to a picture perfect life, but the message from the Divine was only that I must remind others of their light and souls.  I wasn’t promised a perfect life.  I was only told that I must remind others of their light.  As I wrote about relationships before and after my NDE, I channeled a passage and a healing statement about the search for soulmates and the occasional pain of romantic relationships.

Excerpts from Angels in the OR, “We are all looking for a missing part of souls in another person and not realizing that our own souls are the true source of happiness.  I knew this on the other side.  No one accompanied me there, but I was whole and the light was both me and larger than me.  Source was all that I needed….”

“When we forget our connection to source, we are sometimes reminded of this spark of the divine in another and hold on desperately as if God were only in that one specific person, but God is everywhere, especially inside of us.”

self-love

Occasionally, I am given a healing statement for others.  In connection to this topic, here is the statement I was given.  Many people on a spiritual path are sensitive, and the loss of friendships, relationships, and others can be a painful part of the jouney.  It doesn’t have to be.  The pain ends so much quicker with more self-love and more faith in the workings of a loving energy larger than ourselves.  Billy Finger’s life appeared to be one of great pain on this earth, but it prepared him to be freer than some souls and merge with a universe after death.  Not every soul chooses that path.  The point of viewing his story is to learn not to judge others or yourself.  Love yourself more through every part of your journey.

Healing Statement:  You are loved.  Don’t forget how much the divine light delights in you.  You waste resources and time trying to be seen and loved when you are already loved.  You need do nothing.  You can give that love away and feel immediately in touch with the universal flow of love.

Relationships (of all kinds) are sometimes fractured and split because we have so much to learn and release.  We must free ourselves on a vibrational level when it becomes difficult (sometimes very painful) to stay with another.  Sometimes, people around you are not changing or evolving in the ways you are changing.

Don’t beat yourself up for anything.  Just center yourself.  Quiet yourself.  Listen to what you need.  You need to remember that you are already loved and safe.  There is nothing you are gaining or losing from another.  You are only sharing along the way.  If a person stops sharing, then you move on and share with others.  It isn’t complex.  We create a lot of judgement around issues that need no judgement.  If love is flowing between people, all will work out.  If it isn’t, they move on, especially if they are aware of their own connection to source and love.  Why lose out on a connection to source and love that is already exists because another doesn’t want you to have love or be love?  Why stay with someone who wants you to have less, be less, and experience less than you know you can find through a connection to source? You stay with someone who shows you how to have more, be more, and experience more because of their presence.  You stay with someone who really knows how to love and whose presence makes you feel stronger, freer, and happier.

**I realize this level of detachment and freedom is not easy for many people.  NDErs tend to love and accept others often without the usual attachments and conditions society expects.  I only know that I’ve observed a lot of needless drama in people around the ending of relationships and marriages.  In the news, we see husbands and wives who take that drama to sociopathic lengths and kill their spouses.  They forget that time is a great healer and time is relative.  There is a way to speed healing up.  Meditation, a change of perspective, and enlightened moments can take us far away from our circumstances and change our perspectives.  If we eventually get over something, why not envision what getting over something feels like and bring it into the present moment quicker? In The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, Billy learned how not to take his life or perspective seriously the farther he got away from his situation.  Like Billy, NDErs know that our lives look very different from a far-away perspective and that perspective is wonderful.   Distance and a new perspective is healing for everyone.

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers Continued….This book has been so enjoyable that I must address other topics such as Higher Beings/Angels, recovery from addiction, and the healing power of nature in another post.

Response to Natalie Sudman’s Book Application of Impossible Things:  My Near-Death Experience in Iraq

natalie

Update on 1/19/19:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.

Book Review

“Religion tells us we’re fundamentally sinners, and science tells us we’re fundamentally aggressive survivors.  My experience in the expanded awareness environments, however, assures me that we’re fundamentally good, holy, cooperative, creative, and amazingly cool.”—Natalie Sudman, Application of Impossible Things:  My Near-Death Experience in Iraq

Natalie Sudman’s experience outside of her body allowed her to connect with a gathering of beings who communicated with her in that added reality in amazing ways.   Her book pays special attention to language and rather than narrating the events of her accident and recovery chronologically, she zeros in on specifics from the moments she spent in the environment outside of her body.

Reality of OBEs and NDEs:  There are many things I enjoyed about this book, including the line in her preface which reads, “…I know—not believe—that what I experienced was real.”   For years, I have said this about my NDE, unmoved and bored by what skeptics have to say.  Though normally impressed with degrees from top-tier schools, I give skeptics zero credit no matter where they obtained their degrees.  After all, skeptics are operating only with their five senses and current theories that very well might change. Mainly, skeptics did not see the added reality that I saw existing along with this reality.

Sudman addresses this topic as well, breaking down the debate from those who rely only on this reality to those who say this reality is the dream and the other reality is the one that is more important.  She says both realities are real, and I couldn’t agree more. Sudman beautifully addresses how much information and how complex and layered this information is when communicated outside of the body.

Communication:  One of my favorite descriptions in her book occurs when she describes how communication in that dimension occurs as a, “…transfer of information in the form of an inexplicable complex matrix.  The information was minutely detailed and broadly conceptual—at once layered and infinitely dense, yet elegantly simple.”  Although Sudman plays around with language, trying to find the exact word to describe the entities, beings, etc. and ultimately decides on personalities, I felt more comfortable calling the beings I met—who sent healing energy into my body—angels.   Sudman met a group of equals, but the angels I met during surgery struck me as filled with much more information, wisdom, and understanding than I had at twenty-one.   My angels were comforting, highly intelligent, and capable.  Perhaps, differing ages, experiences, and mindsets at the time of death might influence who and how we interact with on the other side.

Like Sudman, I wasn’t interested in returning to my body if the injuries were too catastrophic.  Interestingly, Sudman participated in the healing of her own body, outside of her body, with assistance from the beings.  I communicated my wish to be able to walk, and my angels sent light through the back of the doctors, through their hands, and lit up my body, even ensuring that specific bone fragments would not press on my spine.  Whether they altered reality or ensured that the doctors would find these fragments, I do not know.  I only know they participated in my healing while I watched intently.  I have always felt that the angels were teaching me to participate in healing.  I liked reading about Sudman’s level of disconnection and even humor about the moment she and many healing beings worked on her body before she returned to it.

Free Will in the Environment beyond the Body:  Sudman discusses how she has read several NDE accounts, like mine, which feature a light or authority figure telling these souls they must return.  Her experience gave her the free will to return or not.  At first, she felt very tired and did not want to return.  She was given a brief moment of rest in another location, and then based on the communication she received from the gathering decided to return.  I often joke that I need a “thousand year nap,” and I’m a little jealous that it seems like she received an eternal moment of rest before returning to her physical form.

One of Sudman’s theories is that during NDEs with an authority figure telling them to return that “…these individuals retained some habits of perception carried over from the physical waking consciousness beliefs, and the authority sending them back was either a helper or simply their own voice of the Whole Self…”  In contrast, Sudman states that she knew where she was and trusted her experience within the expanded consciousness.

I wouldn’t say that I experienced judgement or superiority from the Divine Light on any level.  I do agree that the light deeply appreciated me.  My experience did contain a bit of compassion, and even though compassion implies a place of superiority or of knowing more that compassion was only a wish that I might love myself more in the human form, treat myself better, love others more fully and without fear.  The light didn’t want me to miss out on potential moments of beauty and saw that I shut myself off from others in college through introversion, fear, insecurity, childhood wounds, alcohol, drugs, and pessimistic views of the world.  My experience with the light did seem as if I had no choice in the matter but to return and teach.  If given the choice, I would not have chosen to return, and I would have missed out on great beauty and amazing moments in and out of the classroom.

Enjoyment of Life:  Like Sudman, I received information that enjoyment of our life experiences is very important.  The gathering of beings showed her this in a multitude of ways.  I was shown that life works better when we are like “little children” in that we deeply enjoy each moment without comparing it to other moments.  After my NDE, I certainly did deeply enjoy life.  Even a eating a candy bar slowing or stopping beneath a tree to listen to a bird singing might throw me into a deep, sensual, happy moment of complete beingness.   Sudman was surprised that enjoyment was an important criteria, but I can’t say that I was surprised.  The wonder of childhood made life all the more magical and enjoyment seems key.  The personalities or beings wanted Sudman to understand that she might enjoy the proposed tasks on the earthy plane.

Toward the end of the book, Sudman talks about how she knew that she would have some use of her right hand and that she would survive the skull fracture even though doctors and staff weren’t certain.  I understand that kind of certainty.  I knew returning to my body that I would walk.  I wasn’t promised a life without chronic pain though.  I was only promised that I would walk, run, and enjoy nature and many of the activities I enjoyed before the accident.  Sudman discusses how the whole self or the self outside the body is less concerned with this life, so detached in fact that the life that will be lived out seems quick from their viewpoint.  As she considers a life with damage to her eye and wrist and considers the many years that she might live with this condition in her body, time now seems much slower.

I especially enjoyed the descriptions of how life is viewed outside in the “blink environment” as she names it verses how it is lived within the human form.  Despite the new limitations, she focuses on enjoyment even of navigating life in a human form with new limitations.  I do that to a degree as well.  Whenever I have to move to a new home, I pack very light boxes since I can’t lift heavy ones.  I get more of a workout carrying more frequent small boxes.  There are ways to have fun, even with limitations. I liked that positive spin, and the realistic acknowledgment that living out this life seems much longer than how it seems on the other side.

Preference of the Other Side:  Many NDErs and those who have had profound spiritual experiences report preferring the other side.  Sudman writes, “…existence beyond the physical is utterly lovely, delicious, and strange, infused with limitless love, richly fulfilling, and euphorically effortless.”  She goes on to talk about how physical life viewed from the other side requires “razor focus” and is also wildly interesting.  I understand the preference of being in the existence beyond the physical.  I have never and probably never will feel limitless love like I felt as I neared the light until I die again. I also understand the many reasons to enjoy this life, and to try to accomplish all that we can connected to the will of our “Whole Self.”  Some people call this the higher self, the self that is not limited by time, space, birth, or death, the self that is capable of calm wise decisions that benefit the self and others.  May we all access or higher selves and whole selves more frequently.

I recommend this book if you are interested in language, in NDEs, in OBEs, and in critical and creative thinking about these types of experiences.